The Unsung Heroes: People Behind Your Favorite Indian Artists/DJs

Posted at July 1st, 2016 | by Supreet.cheema | in

When you listen to a track or attend a show, the thought that ‘how lucky and talented the person performing onstage is’ must have passed your mind. But what looks like a one-man job on the surface, involves the relentless hard work and passion of a number of people working behind the scenes and most importantly of the person managing the artist. Artist managers build the artist’s brand in the industry from the scratch and strive everyday to keep the artist at the forefront of the field. These people who work behind the scene are truly the unsung heroes we should all be well aware of.

We caught up with few artist managers in India to learn their perspective on the music scene in India, how it’s grown and what the future holds for the scene. Take a look:

Tej Brar

Artist Manager for: Nucleya, Anish Sood, Sand Dunes and more

G: What does a typical day in the life of an artist manager looks like?

T: Phone starts ringing at about 8:30 am, this could either be a gig inquiry, feedback from an artist from a show the previous night or someone from OML staff updating me on any current issues going on. Check emails next till about 10:00 am, then quick breakfast and leave for office. Once in office do a round table with my sub managers, prioritize tasks for the day and then start knocking them out basis how pressing the issue is. Lunch probably meet up with a client/artist/partner and spend some valuable face time. Afternoons are usually artist meetings catching up with them or meeting prospective partners or clients, listen to their pitches. Evening drinks with colleagues and then head out to whatever gig is happening on that given night. And there’s usually at least one thing every night – at least in Bombay.

If you are touring – land, food, soundcheck, sleep/emails at hotel, smash show, afterparty, next flight.

G: What aspects of your artist’s career do you look after?

T: OML operates as a 360 management model. We don’t just operate as booking agents. This covers all aspects of the artists career from shows and logistics to profile raising to planning releases to merchandise. We try to have a big picture vision for each artist while also handling the day to day administrative requirements. This is all based off the artists vision and what they hope to accomplish in a given window of time.

G: What are your predictions for Indian music industry in 2016?

T: There’s going to be an influx of new artists. There has already been quite an accelerated growth over the last couple of years. A lot of aspiring homegrown producers now have sort of role models or proven success stories they can point out and say “that could be me”, so they know it can be achieved. Also, we will see an even greater number of international artists coming down and touring. This is already growing at an exponential rate with international artists finally viewing India as a legitimate touring market. There are also going to be an increase in boutique events – be these club nights or festivals. Events that cater to a specific genre, style or experience. Examples of this are the Deep in Dance nights Groovearth has been doing and also Future Theory Festival that we saw debut this year.

G: What are the nightmares/challenges of managing an artist in India?

T: It’s just about managing expectations. Under promising and over delivering will always leave you with a positive relationship with your artist. Payments and logistics are pretty sorted now and venues are being far more professional. Perhaps the biggest challenge is making sure that nothing happens last minute and that all required permissions are in place. Even if you do the most due diligence possible before an event something can always happen last minute that is unavoidable and outside of your control. This is especially pertinent with larger scale shows. When something like that does go down, it’s about not getting aggressive/emotional and working with your partners (promoter/venue) to reach the most practical/amicable outcome possible.

G: If you had to give one piece of advice to up-and-coming musicians heading for the studio to record some material, what would that be?

T: Just be original. Do not try and ape what you see producers/dj’s in the west doing. It might just be a fad or a passing trend. This is kind of what we are seeing with EDM right now. Try your very best to cultivate a sound that is uniquely yours and instantly recognisable. It’s okay to be influenced by stuff but try your best to absorb it and then make it your own. Also, just put out a lot of music. Don’t wait around to do big releases. It’s okay to just drop a single or a remix on it’s own to keep your audience engaged.

Hermit Sethi

Artist Manager for: Nikhil Chinappa, Pearl, DJ Mash and more

G: What does a typical day in the life of an artist manager looks like?

H: Loads of emails, few hours of sleep, week filled with gigs and lots to think about 🙂

G: What aspects of your artist’s career do you look after?

H: Well frankly i don’t much look after Artist we have experienced Srikant and Jay for that, i look at the other side of the business and try and see how i can use artist for  brand associations / Content and tie-ups.

G: What are your predictions for Indian music industry in 2016?

H: The future looks really bright in terms of music as there is so much talent out there. New venues are opening up and loads of new artists to be programmed.

G: What are the nightmares/challenges of managing an artist in India?

H: The biggest challenge is to get the artists the perfect show’s that suits their style and to keep doing that on a week to week basis. Also when it comes to producing to ensure that the artist is satisfied with what he is making and getting them released in the market. I often get venues saying “he will play what i want him to play” and I’m like Hello?? your getting an artist for their expertise and their popularity based on the sound they play.

G: If you had to give one piece of advice to up-and-coming musicians heading for the studio to record some material, what would that be?

H: Produce what you love and not for the masses. Find your unique sound and stick to that, it will take you time but will sure take you places 🙂

Aayushman Sinha

Artist Manager for: Lost Stories, Chetas, Arman Malik

G: What does a typical day in the life of an artist manager looks like?

A: We have no kind of fixed timings EVER no matter how hard we try. Typically my day begins around 8:30-9:00 am and I sleep no where before 4 am. Through the day there are meetings with record labels, promoters, venues, brands, studio recordings, marketing and PR meetings, accounts and at least a 100 phone calls daily. It’s difficult to bifurcate the calls between work calls and fan calls. Since my number is on the fan pages of my artists I get a LOT of random phone calls and messages at extremely odd hours with the most bizarre things being said to me. On a gig day we spend a lot of time simply in travel and with the production bit and sound check. There’s so much travel involved with the job, you literally start living out of a suitcase. In March alone we did about 35 gigs and I was in a different city almost every day.

G: What aspects of your artist’s career do you look after?

A: I tend to let the artist decide what services they’d like me to offer but the common ones amongst all of them are:
– Bookings
– Creative and Content
– Music Concepts and Ideas
– Label Relations
– Logistics
– Marketing
– PR
– Merchandising
– Brands and Endorsements
– Production
– Accounts

Its all in all anything and everything they need. My artists become like family to me, and you don’t say no to anything that family wants.

G: What are your predictions for Indian music industry in 2016?

A: The Indian Music Industry is HUGE! In the dance music space I think trap will pick up and pop will be more widely accepted once again since thats whats getting best response to most of my artists sets. Bollywood will see a comeback on retro with a revived electronic version which we’re currently working on and it sounds nothing short of amazing!

G: You are managing three big artists from different genres, what are the main challenges you face?

A: This is what I LOVE the most about my roster, I manage the best talents from each of their genres and they are currently leading and driving the industry. I’m not the stringent listener who only likes to listen to a single style and genre of music. I strongly believe that content is either good content or bad content, you don’t need to subdivide it further which is why music beyond genres is something we always preach. The only challenge I face is more on the promoter front regarding requirements since we’re very stringent with every minute thing for every single gig.

G: If you had to give one piece of advice to up-and-coming musicians heading for the studio to record some material, what would that be?

A: If you’re heading to the studio keep two things in mind.

1. If a unique sound doesn’t come out of this session, it’s going to be a big waste of time. All styles have been tried and tested, you need to put out something which is unique to you and also has a big mass appeal.

2. Quality is key! All the International A&R’s I’ve spoken to love Indian Productions but aren’t a fan of the quality at all. Get your tracks mixed and mastered from the right places. Don’t hesitate to get additional production done either. Your track is a product you have to sell anyhow, make sure there’s no compromise on quality.

 

Vivek Dudani

Artist manager for: Sunburn festival

G: What does a typical day in the life of an artist manager looks like?

V: I work at sunburn , so its different, we don’t have talent agency but we scout new talent to showcase across all our IP’s. A typical day in my life is listening to all the new music sent by talented individuals across India. Curating the perfect line up for Sunburn Campus shows/ Reload Shows & Club events and of course the main festivals. It also involves a lot of back and forth phone calls to make sure everything is smooth flowing at the shows or upcoming shows.

G: What aspects of your artist’s career do you look after?

V: I look after scouting new talent and make their success within India and making sure the artist gets the platform he/she needs to get bigger.

G: What are your predictions for Indian music industry in 2016?

V: The music scene in India is growing at a rapid speed, you can see many more upcoming producers now and even more individuals getting into music school. Its great , hope we have more established artists out there, soon making their names in the international market.

G: What are the nightmares/challenges of managing an artist in India?

V: Main job is to make sure from start to end for an artist, his life is being perfected by us at shows. that involves right from booking air tickets to hotels to ground movement to what they want to eat and drink ,and what kind of equipment they need to perform. Everything needs to be as smooth as possible so that the least stress is on the artist. One of the main challenges i faced was when Swedish House Mafia were to come to India in 2013, They jet which was set to fly from Indonesia to India was unfit to fly and they would not be able to make it in time to their show. Somehow last minute through connections we figured a private jet of a friends which was arranged and got them to India just in time for their show.

G: If you had to give one piece of advice to up-and-coming musicians heading for the studio to record some material, what would that be?

V: If you feel the music in you, just get into it , lock yourself in a room and just PRODUCE.

    Supreet.cheema

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